SummaryTwelfth Night In Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, it is clearly evident that the fluctuation in attitude to the dual role and situation and tribulations imposed upon the character of Viola/Cesario ends up in a better understanding of both sexes, and thus, allows Viola to have a better understanding for Orsino.
Near the opening of the play, when Viola is adopting her male identity, she creates another self, like two masks and may decide to wear one or the other while swinging between the two densities in emotion and in character. She decides to take on this identity because she has more freedom in society in her Cesario mask, which is evident when she is readily accepted by Orsino, whereas, in her female identity she would not be. Thus, a customary role in society and to the outlooks of others is portrayed. Orsino sees Cesario, as a young squire just starting out in the world, much like himself as a young, spry lad, so he has a tendency to be more willing to unload onto her with his troubles and sorrows, seeking a companion with which to share and to teach. Thus, Viola grows in her male disguise to get a better feeling for his inner self, not the self that he shows to the public, or would reveal and share with Viola in her true female self, but rather his secret self, as he believes he shares with a peer. So, she grows to love him. But, Orsino’s motivation is actually not love for Viola, but rather he seems to be in love with love itself. His entire world is filled with love but he knows that there might be a turning point for him, like when he says: If music be the food of love, play on; give me excess of it, that, surfeiting, the appetite may sicken, and so die.
(206) This quote shows that he knows that he is so caught up in love, that he hopes his appetite for love may simmer when he takes more than he can handle. Near the end of the play, when all tricks and treacheries are revealed and all masks are lifted, Orsino falls in love with Viola. He first forgives her/him of her/his duty to him, the master; then says that she shall now be her master’s mistress: Your master quits you; and for your service done him, so much against the mettle of your sex, so far beneath your soft and tender breeding, and since you called me master for so long, here is my hand.
You shall from this time be your master’s mistress (237) This is sort of a switching love as he thought he was in love with Olivia in the beginning, but, he readily switches his love to Viola, as he feel she knows her personality well. As for Viola, she declares her love for Orsino many times, as if by saying that she would love him if she were a lady. When Orsino first sends Cesario to act as a messenger and send Orsino’s love to Olivia, Cesario proclaims: I’ll do my best to woo your lady; aside yet, a barful strife! Whoe’er I woo, myself would be his wife. (210) This shows that Viola knows what a difficult situation that she is in, and that she might try to woo her out of loving Orsino, so that she might have him for herself; except there is a slight, unexpected twist of fate..
.After Cesario leaves from Olivia’s, she declares: yet my state is well; I am a gentleman. I’ll be sworn thou art. Thy tongue, thy face, thy limbs, and spirit, do give thee five-fold blazon. Not too fast: soft, soft! Unless the master were the man. How now! Even so quickly may one catch the plague? Methinks I feel this youth’s per- fections with an invisible and subtle stealth to creep in at mine eyes. Well, let it be. What ho, Malvolio! (212) Olivia, is thinking back to her question to Cesario, and his response to it.
Then she replies to Cesario’s response, to herself, thinking about him. She agrees with his response, then goes over his many delightfulfeatures, and wonders how she so quickly has caught the plague of love for young Cesario. She decides that it is her feeling towards his youthful perfections that creep into her heart and to her eyes. Then she agrees with her decision, and sends for Malvolio, in hope that he may recall Cesario, so that she may talk with him again. Olivia feels a strong passionate love for Cesario, even though it was love at first sight for her. Cesario presented (himself) very magnificently and left a lasting impression in Olivia’s mind. The next time that Cesario came by, Olivia declared: hood, honour, truth and everything, I love thee so, that, maugre all thy pride, nor wit nor reason can my passion hide.
(224) This verifies that Olivia is profoundly in love with Cesario, despite all his pride. But, Cesario does not possess the same sentiments for Olivia as he says: By innocence I swear, and by my youth, I have one heart, one bosom and one truth, And that no woman has; nor never none shall mistress be of it, save I alone. And so adieu, good madam. (229) Here, Viola tells Olivia that she could never love her, nor any other woman because she only has one love (to Orsino) and is loyal. But, Olivia is still in love, and requests that Cesario return. Overall, Viola learns that in the role of Cesario she had to be quick on her feet, and defend the probing questions and statements as to her love and others love for her. As well she acquired the skill to bide her time, until the time was right, lest she reveal her true self or intentions.The storyAct One scene oneThis scene introduces us to the Duke, who is inlove with a girl called Olivia.
His servant goes to ask her wether or notshe would like to go out with the Duke. The message back from her servantis that Olivia will not be seen in public for seven years because of thedeath of her brother.Scene Two After a shipwreck, Viola findsherself of Illyria, a coastal town. She believes that her brother hasbeen killed in the shipwreck, and that she will never get off thisisland.
After learning about the Duke, she arranges with the captain ofthe ship to disguise herself and to serve the Duke. He may then fall in love with her.Scene ThreeSir Toby and Maria are talking to eachother about Olivia’s decision to morn for seven years. They are alsotalking about Sir Toby’s drinking and friend, Sir Andrew, a foolishknight that has been brought to the castle as a suitor to Olivia. SirAndrew says he is going to leave, but Sir Toby persuades him not to, asOlivia is not interested in the Duke. Maria leaves, and Andrew and Tobydance.Scene FourViola, already disguised as Cesario (she isreferred to as Cesario instead of Viola throughout the play), has alreadybecame a servant to the Duke. Her first job is to try and persuade Oliviato go out with the Duke.
Viola has fallen in love with the Duke.Scene Five Maria and Feste the clown are talking when Olivia enters withMalvolio. She has a conversation with Feste, and he gets the better ofher. Maria announces that a young ‘man’ (Cesario) is here to see Olivia.She says that if he is from the Duke, she will not see him. Maria returnsand says the young man will not take no for an answer, so Olivia meetshim with Maria at her side. Cesario is very convincing about the Duke’slove, but Olivia is not unstuck. She dismisses Cesario, and when by herself, shows that she is in love with ‘him’.
She sends Malvolio with aring Cesario apparently left behind, and said he should return tomorrow. Act Two Scene One Sebastian, Violia’s identical twin brother comesto shore after the shipwreck, saved by Antonio. He wants to beSebastian’s servant, but he says that he will make it to the Duke’s courtby himself.
Scene TwoMalvolio runs after Cesario to give him thering. He denies that he gave it to her, and so Malvolio puts it on theground in front of him. He (Viola) think that Olivia is in love with’him’.Scene Three Sir Toby and Sir Andrew are talking loudly. Festejoins them and sings a romantic song for them.
The other two then joinin. Maria comes down and tells them that they are making to much noise.Malvolio then enters and tells Sir Toby that if he doesn’t stop hisdrinking, he will be banned from the house by Olivia, his niece. He thenleaves, as does Feste.
Maria makes up a plan that she will leave a notethat talks of Olivia’s love for Malvolio.Scene FourThe Duke, stilllovesick calls for some music. Feste arrives and sings a lovesick songback to him. He leaves, and Cesario and the Duke talk. Cesario is told togo back and try to woo Olivia.Scene FiveIn this scene, the note isset for Malvolio.
Sirs Toby and Andrew and Fabian who hates Malvolio,watch him behind a tree. As Malvolio walks into the scene he is thinkingwhat it would be like to be married to Olivia. He finds the note, andgoes to do what the note says, which is to dress in yellow cross garterstockings.Act Three Scene One In this scene, Cesario again goes toOlivia.
She talks to Feste and Sirs Toby and Andrew. Olivia then comesout and confesses her love for Cesario. ‘He’ then runs away as Oliviacontinues to pledge her love.Scene Two In this scene, Sir Andrew isattempting to leave the castle, as he believes that Cesario has made moreprogress towards the love of Olivia. Sir Toby and Fabian persuade him tostay, and convince sir Andrew to challenge Cesario to a fight. Maria thenenters and tells them all about Malvolio.
Scene ThreeAntonio andSebastian go to an Inn and Antonio gives Sebastian his purse in case hewants to buy something. Antonio reveals that he is in trouble with theDuke.Scene FourOlivia is pondering how she will invite Cesario toher house. Malvolio enters, and he is wearing yellow cross -garteredstockings. He seems to think that he and Olivia have some sort ofunderstanding. He then leaves to let Cesario in.
Meanwhile, Sir Andrewshows Maria, Sir Toby and Fabian his letter to Cesario. They urge him on.Sir Toby delivers the challenge to Cesario, and ‘he’ is very worried.Sir Toby tells Cesario that Andrew is the best fighter in the country. Hetells Andrew the same about Cesario. They start to fight. Antonio seesthis, and, mistaking Cesario for Sebastian fights for ‘him’. He is thenarrested by the police.
He asks Cesario for his purse back, and Cesariodoesn’t know what he is saying. He then calls Cesario Sebastian, whichgives her/him a hope. Toby and Andrew see this, and are disgusted.ActFour Scene One Feste goes to collect Cesario, and sees Sebastian. Hetakes him to Olivia’s house mistaking him. When he gets there, Andrewhits Sebastian, also mistaking him.
The latter then smacks Andrew. Tobydraws his sword, and is quickly beaten. Olivia comes out and shouts atToby. She takes Sebastian in side, and he is in love with her.SceneTwo Malvolio is locked up in the dungeon, as everyone thinks he is mad.
Feste, dresses up as Sir Topaz the Curate, and goes and teases Malvolio.The latter asks for pen and ink, but Feste refuses. He then leaves.Scene Three Sebastian, although concerned about Antonio, cant get overOlivia’s behaviour. She then appears with a priest, and asked Sebastianto marry her, mistaking him for Viola. He agrees.Act Five Scene OneThis long scene brings into conclusion all of the plots and thesub-plots.
Feste and Fabian are discussing a letter, when the Duke entersto court Olivia in person. Antonio enters with his guards. Viola(Cesario)points out that was the man that saved her from Andrew. The Dukerecognises Antonio for his past troubles as a pirate, and demands anexplanation.
He says that he and Sebastian were inseparable for the lastthree months. Cesario has been working for the Duke for the last threemonths, and so Antonio is mad. At this time, Olivia enters and callsViola tardy, and rejects the Duke’s love.
Viola and the Duke turn to go,but Olivia calls Viola husband. The priest backs this up. Sirs Andrew andToby enter, and say Cesario beat them. Sebastian enters and tells Antonio not to worry, and all stare at the twins before them. Viola and Sebastianare reunited.
The Duke pleads his love to Viola, as Olivia is married.Feste enters with Malvolio’s letter, and Malvolio is called for. Malvoliocalls Olivia a liar for writing that letter. She says that it was writtenby Maria. Fabian confesses the plot to Malvolio, and says that Sir Tobyis married to Maria. Malvolio vows his revenge on ‘The whole lot of you’,and Feste finishes the scene and play with a song.